February 1 A study co-authored by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California-Davis, has found that the world could be powered by today’s alternative energy solutions within the next 20 to 40 years, according to a report from Stanford.
The conversion to clean and sustainable energy sources can be done with today’s technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. The undertaking would be on the scale of the moon landings and would require societal and political will to make it happen, says the article.
"Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources," said Standford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will.
Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, of the University of California-Davis, have written a two-part paper in "Energy Policy" magazine in which they assess the costs, technology and material requirements of converting the planet, using a plan they developed.
The world they envision would run largely on electricity. Their plan calls for using wind, water and solar energy to generate power, with wind and solar power contributing 90% of the needed energy.
Geothermal and hydroelectric sources would each contribute about 4% in their plan (70% of the hydroelectric is already in place), with the remaining 2% from wave and tidal power.
The researchers approached the conversion with the goal that by 2030, all new energy generation would come from wind, water and solar, and by 2050, all pre-existing energy production would be converted as well
"We wanted to quantify what is necessary in order to replace all the current energy infrastructure for all purposes with a really clean and sustainable energy infrastructure within 20 to 40 years," said Jacobson.